[ wahyld-fahyuh r ]
/ ˈwaɪldˌfaɪər /


a highly flammable composition, as Greek fire, difficult to extinguish when ignited, formerly used in warfare.
any large fire that spreads rapidly and is hard to extinguish.
sheet lightning, unaccompanied by thunder.
the ignis fatuus or a similar light.
Plant Pathology. a disease of tobacco and soybeans, characterized by brown, necrotic spots, each surrounded by a yellow band, on the leaves and caused by a bacterium, Pseudomonas tabaci.
Pathology Obsolete. erysipelas or some similar disease.

Nearby words

  1. wilder, thornton,
  2. wilder, thornton niven,
  3. wilderness,
  4. wilderness area,
  5. wilderness road,
  6. wildflower,
  7. wildfowl,
  8. wilding,
  9. wildish,
  10. wildland

Origin of wildfire

before 1000; Middle English wildefire, Old English wildfȳr. See wild, fire

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wildfire

British Dictionary definitions for wildfire


/ (ˈwaɪldˌfaɪə) /


a highly flammable material, such as Greek fire, formerly used in warfare
  1. a raging and uncontrollable fire
  2. anything that is disseminated quickly (esp in the phrase spread like wildfire)
lightning without audible thunder
another name for will-o'-the-wisp
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for wildfire



Old English, from wild (adj.) + fire (n.). Originally in reference to spreading skin diseases; meaning "destructive fire" is attested from early 12c.; figurative sense is recorded from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wildfire


see spread like wildfire.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.